Three Minute Thesis

Your graduate research. 3 minutes. 1 slide.

Every March and April, the University of Toronto hosts the Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®), a competition in which graduate students present their work to a generalist audience in 3 minutes using only one static slide.

Congratulations to our 2022 3MT Winners!

The Centre for Graduate Professional Development (CGPD) wishes to express a big thank you and congratulations to all the nine finalists this year:

Listen to the 2022 3MT winners

First place: Atefeh Mohammadi, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, “Lung Disease in Premature Babies: Are Watermelons the Answer?
Second place and People’s Choice: Shivam Sharma, Faculty of Dentistry, “Diabetic Wounds: Heels that Don’t Heal
Third place: Melanie Wheatley, Institute of Forestry and Conservation, “Fighting Fire From the Sky“​

Why you should participate in 3MT

Improve your oral presentation skills, profile your research, and learn about our community’s cutting-edge ideas.

  • Present your Three Minute Thesis to generalist audiences at the University of Toronto.
  • Winning the University of Toronto 3MT finals will allow you to compete at the provincial level.
  • You can even advance to showcase your research at the national level and international level.

Outside of the opportunity to improve your communication skills and showcase your research, 3MT is eligible for the MyGPD program and winning the 3MT also comes with monetary prizes.

Ready to apply?

2022 competition schedule

RoundDateRegister
U of T FinalsApril 7, 2022
6:00pm-8:00pm 
Watch the 3MT Finals Facebook Live recording
Ontario 3MT FinalsTBD
Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) CompetitionApril 28, 2022
2:00pm-4:00pm
National 3MT ShowcaseTBD
Council of Graduate Studies ShowcaseTBD

3MT eligibility, rules, and judging criteria

Eligibility

  • Students must be registered in a doctoral program or a Master’s program with a thesis or major research project at the time of the 3MT competition.
  • If you are a Master’s or a PhD student who has defended but not yet convocated, you are eligible to participate.
  • 3MT® presentations must represent the primary research the student has conducted in their graduate program.
  • Competitors must present online (for 2022) and agree to be video-recorded and photographed. They must also allow those video-recordings and photographs to be made public.
  • The winner of the University of Toronto competition must be available to attend the provincial finals.

Rules

  • A single, static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations, or “movement” of any description are allowed), and the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration and remain in view for the duration of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken in standard oratory prose (i.e., no poems, raps or songs, other than those that may be the target of research).
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Competitors will be allowed a mic check prior to officially beginning their presentation.
  • After a successful mic check, the presentation is considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.

Judging criteria

Presentations will be assessed according to the criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted.

Communication

  • Did the presenter use language and terminology that was clear and understandable?
  • Was the pace of the talk effective?
  • Did the presenter use non-verbal communication (i.e., eye contact, voice modulation, body language, etc.) effectively?
  • Did the slide enhance, rather than detract from, the talk — was it clear, legible, and concise?

Comprehension

  • Did the talk help you to understand the research being undertaken and its potential impact?
  • Did the presenter clearly outline the nature and purpose of their research?
  • Did the presenter clearly indicate what is fascinating or compelling about their research?
  • Did the talk follow a logical sequence?

Engagement

  • Was the talk engaging?
  • Did the talk inspire you to want to know more?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their work?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain your attention?

How 3MT works

Competitors progress from the preliminary heats to the semi-finals and then to the finals. The judges will award first, second, and third place, while the audience’s favourite presentation is awarded the people’s choice.

Competition levels at a glance

  • University of Toronto level
    • This 3MT competition is hosted by the School of Graduate Studies. Competitors begin in the preliminary heats and may advance to the semi-finals and finals.
  • Ontario 3MT Showcase
    • The winner of the University of Toronto 3MT competes at the Ontario provincial competition, hosted by a different Ontario university each year.
  • National 3MT Showcase
    • The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) hosts the top finalists from each of the provincial competitions (Western, Ontario, Eastern) to compete in an online format. The video recordings of the finalists’ presentations are played and judged.
  • Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) Competition
    • The winner of the University of Toronto 3MT competes internationally. The NAGS competition brings together the 3MT winners of universities across the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, and the American states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. Competitors present live in front of a panel of judges.
  • Council of Graduate Studies Showcase
    • The Council of Graduate Studies hosts a North America-wide 3MT showcase with the winners from the southern, western, midwestern, and northeastern regions presenting their 3MT orations and participating in a roundtable discussion. The audience is then given a chance to confer a People’s Choice Award.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have additional questions? Contact us at cgpd@utoronto.ca.

Many professional and course-based degree programs, though they do not have formal thesis requirements, give students the option to conduct their own research with many of the same expectations as a thesis, including that the student design and conduct their own research project under the supervision of a faculty member. Departments usually have a specific course code to designate such projects. For example, LIN2100Y at the Department of Linguistics or MUS1990H at Faculty of Music.  

We will send you your heat date and a link to submit your slide by the week of February 23, 2022. But you are encouraged to begin working on your slide and practicing your presentation before then. 

Yes! We encourage you to make changes and incorporate judges’ feedback as you advance through the stages of the competition.

Yes, all graduate students may participate in the preliminary heats subject to meeting the eligibility requirements.

Training and resources

U of T resources

External resources

History of 3MT

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia in 2008. The 3MT competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. Presenting in a 3MT competition increases their capacity to effectively explain their research in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

The idea for the 3MT competition came about at a time when the state of Queensland was suffering severe drought. To conserve water, residents were encouraged to time their showers, and many people had a three-minute egg timer fixed to the wall in their bathroom. The then Dean of the UQ Graduate School, Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson, put two and two together and the idea for the 3MT competition was born.

Today there are more than 600 universities and institutions in over 65 countries that host annual 3MT competitions.

Previous U of T 3MT winners in the news

U of T 3MT Finals

Media

Watch: 2022 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Senjuti Saha (Molecular microbiologist and activist) – CGPD YouTube channel

Three Minute Thesis Winner Urges Scientists to Make Research Accessible – SGS News

Psychology PhD student Jaweria Qaiser reaches the U of T Three Minute Thesis final – A&S News

U of T 3MT Finals

Congratulations to Faraz Alidina, who placed first at the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) competition.

Postdoc competition

  • First place: Dr. Augustine Joshua Devasahayam, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • Second place: Dr. Liziane Bouvier, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Third place: Dr. Xiwen Zhang, Department of Physics
  • People’s Choice: Dr. Morteza Rezanejad, Department of Psychology

Media

PhD student wins Three Minute Thesis contest for presentation on medieval Persian poet  – U of T News

A&S scholars emerge victorious at this year’s U of T Three Minute Thesis competition – A&S News

  • First place: Amalia Gil, The Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Identifying Distractions in Surgery with Eye-tracking
  • Second place: Chris Ahuja, Department of Surgery, “SMaRT Stem Cells to Repair the Spinal Cord”
  • Third place: Aaron Cabral, Department of Chemistry, “Rapid and Sensitive Detection of Bacteria with Fluorescent Chemical Sensors”
  • People’s Choice: Amir Arellano Saab, Department of Cell and Systems Biology, “The Witchweed Problem: Every Atom Counts”

The finals of the University of Toronto 3MT Competition took place as scheduled on Thursday, April 2 from 6-8 PM on Zoom and Facebook Live. An audience of more than 400 supported our amazing U of T students and enjoyed a special guest appearance from CBC Radio Ideas producers Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic. Their documentary series Ideas from the Trenches showcases the work of PhD students across the country. Watch the 2020 3MT finals on Facebook Livestream

Media

COVID-19: U of T’s ‘virtual’ Three Minute Thesis competition draws a crowd online (U of T News, April 15, 2020)

Three Minute Thesis competition moves online (Faculty of Arts & Science News, April 14, 2020)

Student wins U of T’s Three Minute Thesis event for work on surgery and distraction (Faculty of Medicine, April 10)

  • First place: Shane Saunderson, “Persuasive Robotics and the Social Machine.”
  • Second place: Leah De Jong, “Using Skin Cells to Understand Genetic Brain Disorders in Rett Syndrome”
  • Tied for third place:
    • Ryan Chu, “Remote Vital Sign Monitoring Using Infrared Depth Cameras”
    • Farah Qaiser, “Using DNA sequencing to investigate the connection between Epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder”
  • People’s Choice: Shelley Vanderhout, “Cow’s milk fat: which is best for children?”

Media

U of T researchers explore what makes robots ‘persuasive’ to humans (U of T News, March 4, 2019)

Congratulations to Meghan McGee from the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Media

How can donor breast milk fight obesity? U of T PhD student explains in less than three minutes for competition (U of T News, April 19, 2018)

  • First place: Richard Kil (Che​mistry), “Blood Testing with Baker’s Yeast”
  • Second place, tie:
    • Jessica Maxwell (Psychology), “How Beliefs About Sex Shape Sexual and Relationship Well-Being”
    • Wendi Zhou (Electrical and Computer Engineering), “Nanobiosensors: A Baby Monitor for Stem Cells”

Congratulations to Richard Kil from the Department of Chemistry for winning second place in Canada’s 3MT® Competition! After winning the 3MT® Ontario Competition and Competitor’s Choice Award, Richard was entered into the National Finals, where his video was judged by a panel including the Tragically Hip’s Rob Baker, CBC Radio producers Nicola Luksic and Tom Howell, and entrepreneur and PhD supporter Ian Baines.

Media

Say the yeast: Richard Kil places second in nationals of Three Minute Thesis competition (U of T News, June 13, 2017)

  • First place: Cristina D’Amico (English), “The death and life of ownership in nineteenth-century American literature (1840–1920)”
  • Second place: Senjuti Saha (Molecular Genetics), “Tackling antibiotic resistance: Development of antimicrobial nanomachines”
  • Third place: Gregory Wentworth (Chemistry), “How do seabirds cool the Arctic?”
  • First place: Stephen McCarthy (Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology), “Towards an Ebola Cure.”
  • Second place: Elissa Gurman (Department of English), Consent and the Love Plot in Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Fiction.

Congratulations to Stephen McCarthy, a PhD candidate in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, who placed second runner-up at the Provincial 3MT® at Western University on April 23. Stephen competed against 19 other Ontario university students and earned a place in the coveted top-ranking positions. Watch the 2015 Ontario 3MT® presentations.

Stephen and the other provincial finalists represented Ontario in the Canada 3MT competition in May.

Media

Fighting Ebola with HIV drugs gets big shot in the arm (CNN, May 8, 2015)

  • First place: Daiva Nielsen (Nutritional Sciences)
  • Second place: Joseph Bondy-Denomy (Molecular Genetics)

Daiva moved on to compete and win the 2014 Ontario Final last April at McMaster University in Hamilton — successfully defending U of T’s title in Ontario.

Media

The Ongoing Impact of My 3MT® Experience

  • First place: Jasdeep Saggar (Medical Biophysics)
  • Second place: Abraham Heifets (Computer Science)

Jasdeep went on to represent U of T at the 2013 Ontario Finals in April at Queen’s University in Kingston, successfully winning the first 3MT® Provincial Final.

Subsequently, Abraham went on to co-found the startup company Chematria, housed at U of T’s Impact Centre. Chematria made news by launching a search for a new Ebola treatment using artificial intelligence.

Media

Three Minute Thesis contest is Canadian Idol for the geeky set (Toronto Star, April 22, 2013)